Photo by: Richard Clark

The Tendency to Judge Other Moms

Photo by: Richard Clark

It’s no secret that being a mom is tough work. And, while I expected to deal with challenges from my son, I’ve been surprised by some of the challenges that have come from people that should be my biggest allies — other moms. As moms, we’d be wise to stick together and help each other out, but I think many of us (myself included) are skeptical of parenting styles that are different from our own. As a result, we tend to be judgmental toward parents who are doing things differently.

As I’ve made the switch to cloth diapers, I’ve visited several online cloth diapering forums for tips from CD [cloth-diapering] veteran moms. Unfortunately, in addition to gaining some useful advice, I’ve also learned that some CD moms are quite judgmental toward disposable-diapering moms. The fact that I used disposable diapers for nearly 9 months made some of the CD moms cringe and make rude comments about the way I parent. One commenter even had the audacity to call my son a “poor baby” because I mentioned that I could leave him in a disposable diaper for 4 hours on occasion (something you can’t do with cloth diapers because they will leak). In reality, the commenter knows nothing about my parenting style and had no business calling my son a “poor baby.” Besides being annoyed by that particular comment, the incident served as a stinging reminder that many parents have a tendency to judge other parents who employ different parenting styles. But we need to remember that different does not equal wrong.

There are so many choices we make as parents. Cloth diapers vs. disposables. Being a stay-at-home parent vs. putting your children in daycare. Making your own baby food vs. buying jarred. Rocking your baby to sleep vs. letting her cry it out. Crib sleeping vs. co-sleeping. Breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. Vaccinating on schedule vs. delaying vaccines. None of these choices is right and none is wrong. They are merely options, and what is best for one child is not best for another. For example, while breastfeeding is the most nutritious food to feed babies, some mothers struggle so much to breastfeed that they develop serious physical pain and emotional stress as a result. In such cases, the best thing for the baby may a switch to formula in order to have a happy and healthy mother who can care for him properly. Parenting is not a one-size-fits-all arena.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t strive to be the best parents we can be, but we need to remember that everyone has a different set of values that they bring to parenting. So, I’m going to start with the woman in the mirror on this one (as a side note, it was only as recently as about 2004 that I learned Michael Jackson was singing about the “man in the mirror” and not the “man in the middle.” I had been wondering why that poor guy in the middle always got singled out…)

I’m going to try to refrain from judging other moms even when they do things that I would never do. Having felt the judging eyes upon me, I know it’s a feeling I’d never want to give to another mom—it’s a feeling no responsible mother deserves to feel.

Hopefully we can all try to see the best in others. I’m going to aim to be the best mom I can be and assume all other moms are doing the same!

Jen is a stay-at-home mom and parenting blogger. She holds degrees from Penn State University and Georgetown University and lives outside of Washington, DC with her husband and son.

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